Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: REVIEW

The Planet of the Apes has found its Empire Strikes Back.

Caesar and his band of intelligent apes return in a powerfully emotional and thrilling sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Dawn is proof that Hollywood Blockbusters can be both action-packed entertainment as well as intelligently heartfelt.

I know he only played Gollum in Lord of the Rings, but you’d think Andy Serkis was a Wizard. The way he brings the computer-generated Caesar to life and breathes so much emotional complexity into the character is unreal. He is a real hero, with real flaws. And the same goes for the rest — these apes are probably some of the more well-rounded characters you’ll spend time with all summer.

Dawn‘s not perfect — it’s a little long, and some characters (such as Gary Oldman’s) seem unnecessary. But the film features some beautiful cinematography, a sweeping soundtrack from Michael Giacchino, awe-inspiring digital animation, and rich storytelling with deep thoughts on loyalty, conflict, and morality.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes isn’t concerned as much with blowing up everything in its sight. It’s concerned with telling a rich story and offering a heartbreaking look at a leader continually forced to choose the lesser of two evils.
The moment when Caesar embraces his friend Malcolm — one ape, one human, both knowing there’s nothing either can do to stop a coming war between their species — is easily one of the most beautifully poignant scenes in recent memory.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of scifi violence and action.” There’s a brief amount of language, and the majority of the plot focuses around violence between two groups. 

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

Snowpiercer: REVIEW

After a failed global warming experiment kills off most of the world’s population, the planet’s survivors find themselves in a life-sustaining train traveling across the globe called the “Snowpiercer.”

Snowpiercer is a mind-trip. It’s an ambitous, smart scifi film that sticks out like a sore thumb in a summer full of reboots and CGI-filled blockbusters. It’s full of plenty of compelling twists and turns, and its phenomenal cast help bring the visually-stunning story to life. As the hero who rebels against the train’s class system, Chris Evans in particular shows off an impressive new side unlike anything we’ve seen from Captain America prior.

Snowpiercer is a bold, dark, and original story full of drama, tension, and heartbreak. It’s unlike anything else you’ll see in the theaters this year — and that’s a compliment.

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Snowpiercer is rated R for “violence and language.”

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

Transformers: Age of Extinction: REVIEW

Transformers 4: Back for More Money made more than $120 million worldwide on just its opening day… Proof that we live in a fallen world.

Michael Bay bloats a story about huge robot aliens attacking other huge robot aliens to almost criminal lengths – nearly three hours, full of noisy mindless action with absolutely no tension.

The best character is killed off after thirty minutes, and the opening titles are way too far away from the end credits – a solid hour and half of useless nuts and bolts could be cut from the middle of this Transformers with absolutely no impact on the story. It just gives Michael Bay more time to throw in loads of needless product placement.

Nobody wanted a Transformers sequel in the first place. If you like loud, overlong, incoherent films with 99% of things onscreen being computer-generated, then you might like this one. But my guess is that most people won’t be turned onto the franchise because of Age of Extinction.

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Transformers: Age of Extinction is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief innuendo.”

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

22 Jump Street: REVIEW

Jenko and Schmidt are undercover again – and this time they’re in college. Cue the bean bags, shower caddies, and spring breaks. 

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s brilliant chemistry blossoms as the two undercover agents find themselves in even more silly hijinks two years later.

22 Jump is a sharp, clever, energetic comedy sequel that’s more than eager to poke fun at itself. It’s not perfect, but 22 Jump Street is a hilarious buddy comedy with plenty of laughs and lots of heart.
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22 Jump Street is rated R for “language throughout, sexual content, and some violence.” The language is constant, and the movie has its fair share of crude gags. 22 Jump Street is not for younger audiences or anyone who cannot tolerate crude humor. 

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

How to Train Your Dragon 2: REVIEW

Hiccup and Toothless return in an exciting but overrated sequel that borrows all its best parts from other animated classics before it.

Dragon 2 has plenty of soaring and emotional moments, but they’re just not enough to overcome the clichéd plotline with extraneous characters and clichéd dialogue.

It might be loads of fun for the young ones (and its still better than most Dreamworks outings), but How to Train Your Dragon 2 ends up a fun yet forgettable trip to the movies.reviewscalenew2

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How to Train Your Dragon 2 is rated PG for “adventure action and some mild rude humor.”

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

Edge of Tomorrow: REVIEW

Tom Cruise is Major William Cage – a soldier forced to live the same day over and over again when he finds himself in a time loop on the day of an alien invasion.

Edge of Tomorrow tries to do something new with the sci-fi genre, but ends up a run-of-the-mill action blockbuster with little in terms of imaginative storytelling or any character depth. Most of the jokes don’t land, numerous unnecessary characters are thrown in for no purpose, and it’s just straight-up boring.

What Edge of Tomorrow amounts to is a two hour video game.
And this one’s not worth repeating over and over again.

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Edge of Tomorrow is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, as well as language.”

© Matt Tory, 2014.